Will I still be able to get liability insurance if I am not a member of Education Minnesota?
Yes. Being protected is important. There are several non-union teacher association alternatives that provide teachers with the same or more personal protection than Education Minnesota.
Here is a comparison of AAE’s insurance policy to Education Minnesota’s policy.
These organizations also offer health, disability, and auto insurance plans and access to professional development opportunities.
There are private carriers that offer these policies for teachers, as well. Check with your home/auto insurance agent to see if it offers professional liability coverage.
If I am a member, how do I resign or “opt-out” from Education Minnesota and its affiliates?
The union recently expanded its opt-out period to 30 days in September (Sept. 1- Sept. 30). The most effective way to resign is to send a resignation letter to Education Minnesota, with a copy to your local union, and a copy to your school district so payroll knows to stop deducting dues from your paycheck. Then, be sure to check your paystub. You can view a sample letter here. We offer detailed instructions and an “auto-fill” option that will generate a letter during the September resignation window (click on “Opt-Out Now”).
Some teachers are sending letters of resignation outside of the September Window; they are arguing that they did not “affirmatively consent” to union membership or dues deduction. If teachers did not sign a recommitment form in the 2017-2018 school year, the union has stated these teachers will be allowed to revoke their union membership at any time. We do not yet know if the union will honor those requests. (Please email us at [email protected] to let us know what happens if you try to opt-out before or after the September Window.)
We recommend that you prepare your resignation letter in advance, so you can enjoy the summer and focus on your students in the fall. Also, if you create your letter in advance, Educated Teachers MN will remind you by email to send it in during the September Window. If you change your mind, you can hold the letter. It is your choice.
Does the Janus v. AFSCME ruling mean my union will disappear? Will I have to negotiate my own contract?
No. The union, as the exclusive bargaining agent, will still represent members and non-members, just like it did when it represented fair-share fee payers before Janus. You cannot negotiate your own contract. Non-members will have all the rights and benefits afforded members under the contract including pension and health care. (Some teachers would prefer to negotiate their own contract, but that is not allowed under the law.)
Can I be fired, penalized or retaliated against for not being a member of Education Minnesota?
No. Being a full dues-paying member of a union is voluntary. You cannot be fired from your job or penalized for belonging to a union, or not belonging to a union. It is illegal for a school district or other employer to discriminate against you for exercising this right.
It is also illegal for the union to retaliate or discriminate against employees who exercise their constitutional right not to join or support the union.
If I was a fair-share fee payer, do I need to opt-out or resign from the union?
No. If you were a fair-share fee payer when Janus was decided, you got a pay raise on June 27, 2018. It is our understanding that all school districts stopped deducting fair-share fees immediately following Janus. We recommend you confirm that your district employer is no longer deducting fees from your paycheck.
If I am not a member of Education Minnesota, does that affect my pension?
No. Your defined benefit pension and 403(b) are offered as benefits by your district employer, not by the union. Pensions are not subject to collective bargaining in Minnesota, though the unions do lobby on the issue. Union members and non-members have the same pension benefits.
How does the Janus decision impact collective bargaining?
The Janus ruling had no effect on collective bargaining. The unions will still negotiate wages, benefits, hours and working conditions with employers, and all employees—regardless of union membership status—will be covered by the union contract. The union is still the exclusive representative of all employees in the bargaining unit and must represent all employees in good faith.
Is there a way for teachers to just financially support their local union and not Education Minnesota (and NEA and AFT)? Can we go local only?
No, and Yes. Teachers and other school employees (e.g. ESPs) cannot choose to belong only to the local union. If you are a member of the union, you pay dues to Education Minnesota and its local and national affiliates (NEA/AFT). You can, however, resign or “opt-out” of Education Minnesota and its affiliates, then send voluntary donations to your local association. This solves the “free-rider” problem and keeps the money local.
Note: If the majority of employees in a collective bargaining unit want a local union only but do not want to be affiliated with Education Minnesota (and the NEA/AFT) they would need to decertify the incumbent union through an election. That is a separate issue from Janus.
If I am a new teacher, do I have to join the union?
No. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Janus that you do not have to join or support a union to get or keep your job. The Court also said that your employer and the union must get your affirmative consent before deducting any union dues from your paycheck. And because the unions asked for and won the legal right to represent all the teachers at your school, the union must fairly represent you even if you are not a member. You have all the legal rights and employment benefits under the teaching contract as members of the union. Federal and Minnesota law prohibit your employer or the union from treating you differently from a union member. (If you think the local rep is doing a good job, you can send a check and thank you note to show appreciation.)
Do I have to meet with my local union rep before I can resign?
No. You are not required under the law, union contract or under the union membership card to meet; this is either a harassing tactic, or maybe the local rep genuinely hopes to change your mind. But you are under no obligation to meet with anyone or discuss your decision. It is a private decision. There is nothing the union can do if you resign without meeting with anyone.
Will the opt-out window be the same next year?
We do not know. The good news is the union recently expanded the opt-out window from seven days to 30 days (Sept. 1-Sept. 30). The bad news is the window still exists and is a burden on teachers’ ability to exercise their First Amendment rights.
We think union cards teachers signed both before and after the Janus case on June 27, 2018 are not valid. The cards do not contain a waiver of your constitutional rights, or your affirmative consent to pay dues. And teachers are getting pressured to sign. We also think the 30-day window is unconstitutional. But teachers first have to win those fights in court. Or the legislature might intervene and require more reasonable terms. That could take several years.